BOSTON, Mass.—Michelle Zullo threw seven strong innings and UMass Boston (6-18) used strong defense and a little bit of help from the MIT defense (12-9) to snap their season-high 11-game losing streak Tuesday afternoon at the UMB Softball Field.
The two squads went back-and-forth in a pair of one-run games, as MIT took game one with a 2-1, eight-inning victory, only to fall 2-1 in the nightcap to Zullo and the Beacons.
Zullo not only helped the Beacons snap their 11-game losing streak but also put an end to her personal six-game skid. She threw seven innings of one run ball and allowed just six hits and one walk, while striking out six batters in one of her top performances of the spring. The sophomore pitcher teamed up with Emily Gray (New Bedford, Mass.) to hold the Engineers to three runs (two earned) and just 12 hits in 15 innings.
Game One: MIT 2, UMass Boston 1 (Eight Innings)
MIT moved to 4-0 in extra-inning contests behind a strong game from Sarah Van Belleghem and a controversial illegal pitch call in the eighth to match their wins total from a year ago.
Van Belleghem went 3-for-3 with a hit by pitch and a run scored and factored into the game-winning run scoring in the eighth.
After Kelly Wang, who started on second base in the eighth due to NCAA rules, moved over to third base with two outs, Van Belleghem stepped up to the plate with first and second open. On the first pitch from Gray, catcher Sam Hemstock (Northford, Conn.) was ruled to have stepped out of the catcher's box before the pitch was launched, causing the umpire to allow Wang to score from third on the illegal pitch.
Junior designated player Erika Vecchiet (Pequannock, N.J.) led UMB with two hits in three trips to the plate and an RBI. Senior shortstop Taryn Asta (Marshfield, Mass.) added the Beacons third and final hit against Ellie Fodor and also came in to score UMB's only run of game one.
Fodor was dominant in the contest, striking out eight batters in seven innings of work, while allowing one earned run. The sophomore picked up her seventh win of the season, while Alexandra Marshall earned her first career save with a 1-2-3 eighth.
Gray was the hard luck loser for UMass Boston, giving up six hits, two runs (one earned) over the course of eight innings of work.
MIT took a 1-0 lead in the top half of the first, when Van Belleghem rocketed the second pitch of the game to the foot of the fence for a leadoff double. Two batters later, Van Belleghem came into a score on an RBI groundout from Anna Christensen.
The Engineers would threaten in the second and third against Gray, but UMB turned two of their three doubles plays of the game to end each half inning. In the third inning, MIT had runners at first and third with one out, but Marshall's fly ball to right field turned into a double play, when Lyndsey Capra (Lowell, Mass.) gunned down a tagging Alex Burgess at home by several feet.
After another big double play by the Beacons defense in the top of the sixth, UMB finally scratched a run across in the bottom half of the inning. Asta singled with one out and moved up to second on a passed ball and came around to score on a Vecchiet single down the right field line that just managed to stay fair.
Both teams went down quietly in the seventh, setting up the Beacons first extra-innings game of the season. Gray retired each of the first two batters, with Wang moving over to second on a groundout, to bring up a red-hot Van Belleghem. UMass Boston elected to pitch around the leadoff hitter, but the move didn't work, as the first pitch ultimately brought home the game-winning run.
The Beacons moved Kelsey Svenson (Oxford, Conn.) to third base with one down, but each of the next two batters popped up to end the game.
Game Two: UMass Boston 2, MIT 1
The Engineers would jump out to another early 1-0 lead in game two, but the Beacons scored two runs in the third inning and committed just one error to bring their losing skid to an end
MIT and UMass Boston combined for just 10 hits in game two, as Marshall and Zullo went pitch for pitch. The pair totaled eight strikeouts and just one double each, as a pair of unearned runs cost Marshall her fifth win of the season.
Leah Alpert gave MIT a 1-0 lead after the top of the first, when she sent a grounder deep into the shortstop hole with two outs to score Marshall who had reached on a one out double. Fodor followed with a single to give the Engineers three hits in their first 5 at-bats, but Wang popped up with two on and two out and that would be all the scoring for MIT in game two.
UMass Boston grabbed their only lead of the game in the third inning, when each of the first two batters singled and a pair of Engineers error and a wild pitch combined to make it 2-1 Beacons. Svenson led off the inning with a single to right field and moved over to second when Burgess misplayed the ball in right field. On the next pitch, Capra put down a bunt single between Marshall and Fodor on the first-base side of the mound that turned into two-bases, when Marshall overthrew first base to allow both Svenson and Capra to move up an extra-base. With Capra over at third base and two outs, Marshall's pitch flew over the catcher's head and all the way to the backstop to allow Capra to come home and give UMB a 2-1 lead.
The Engineers threatened to tie it in the sixth inning, when Alpert recorded her game-high second hit of the game and reached third base on a two-base error with just one out. But Zullo proceeded to force Fodor to pop out and struck out Wang to end the rally.
After the Beacons left two-runners on in the bottom of the sixth, MIT went down quietly in the seventh, leaving a runner on first, with all four batters failing to hit the ball out of the infield.
UMass Boston will take to the road Thursday afternoon for a non-conference doubleheader at Framingham State University beginning at 3:30 p.m. MIT will return to NEWMAC action, when they host Babson College Thursday at 3:00 p.m.
NOTES: Senior Sue Killilea (Abington, Mass.) broke Maria Nasta's ('12) program-record for at-bats with her third at-bat in game number one. Killilea (414) and Nasta (409) are the only Beacons to have reached the 400 at-bats mark ... Killilea stands one double shy of Andrea Ciarletta's ('07) record of 32 career doubles, after Killilea doubled in game number one.